I AM 16. My name is not important. I believe with all my heart and all my soul in Allah: That He is One. That He created all that is. That He controls all that will be. That He will raise me up with all other people after I die to judge me. That He has made Heaven for the good and Hell for the bad.
I believe and love Muhammad as my Prophet, and the last of Allah’s messengers to all the world. I believe that Allah revealed the Quran to him through the Angel Gabriel. I believe that Satan is a real being that is evil and against us.
I do not pray Salah. I do not know how. I know the Fatihah. I know Qul huwa Allahu ahad. My mother taught them to me. But I can’t read the Quran. I don’t read Arabic. My parents don’t pray Salah. They fast Ramadan. They don’t go to the Friday Salah. I don’t fast. My cousins who are my close friends sometimes fast. But mostly we don’t.
I go to a public high school. I am involved in sports. I have many close non-Muslim friends. I like them because they are so dedicated to me. They are fun to be with and good people. I go to their houses. I know their families very well. They like me and trust me, and I like them. They know I am a Muslim. They know I don’t eat pork. They respect it. When I eat in their homes, they make me only foods I can eat. They are generous to me.
I have cousins of mine who also are my close friends and Muslims. None of us eat pork. But we sometimes do other things that we know we should not. We drink some Friday nights at parties with our friends. Some of us smoke. I don’t. Most of us have girlfriends, and that’s what I wanted to talk about.
These girls are not bad girls. Actually, they are very good. They’re Americans, non-Muslims. My girlfriend stopped eating pork when I explained why we don’t eat it. She quit smoking, mostly, when I told her I didn’t like it. She listens to me very obediently. We have been together now for seven months. I really love her. And this is what I’m writing about.
I spend almost all my free time with her now. I am so happy when I am with her. We talk and talk about so many things, about what we hope for, about the scary things in our world, about religion—a lot about religion. I don’t think I have ever talked this much about my religion with anyone. She is very open to it. I’ve spoken with her a lot about Jesus, about how he is not God but a prophet of God. She has really seen through our talks how the Trinity makes no sense, cannot be true. She told me this. That she sees that there can only be one God.
I don’t know how to say this, but we also are very close. I mean, we come together, physically, a lot. Not everything, because I believe that is something that a girl should keep for her marriage. My cousins do not draw this line with their girlfriends.
Every night I walk home from her house. On the way, I pass through a factory area and railroad tracks where there aren’t any houses nearby. As soon as I reach that place, I start talking out loud to God, every night. I say, O Allah, I know it is wrong to be with her, but it feels so right. I am not using her. I love her. And she loves me.
My parents would never accept an “American” girl. All my cousins’ parents and mine, at least our mothers, they know the girls like us, and they know we are hanging out with them. But they never allow for us to bring them home, to meet them. They want us to marry Arab girls. This is strange to our girlfriends, and their parents, who accept us. It makes it awkward sometimes. It’s a very hard thing to explain. They accept you, but your parents don’t accept their daughter.
I don’t know what to do or where this will end up. My heart aches when I am away from my girlfriend and to think of leaving her or losing her. I started to talk about this with one of the good Muslims at school. He eventually got me to talk with this older guy who is like a shaykh. I was hesitant at first, but I was surprised to find that he grew up here, and he’s very religious. He seems to understand where I’m coming from, my feelings. I cried the first time we spoke. In fact, I’ve cried a lot. Because I really believe in my religion. And I really love my girlfriend. She is so good, really.
I don’t know how I’m going to handle this, but he asked me to start writing about it. He said it would be good for me and others. So here it is.